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Lissasalayaya's Achievements


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  1. Responding to OP: There is a tension between eastern and western mythology about dragons. In the west, a dragon is a terrible beast that steals princesses, hoards treasure, and that you need to slay, harvest and/or subdue. In the east, a dragon is a majestic, lucky, someimes benevolent creature or deity that grants wishes and creates worlds. There is a lot of contrast and a little overlap. The author is utilizing this tension in ASOIAF to great effect everywhere there are dragons, especially regarding Daenerys, and especially regarding the story's biggest themes.
  2. Young Griff will be received with cognitive dissonance followed by shame in some people and denial in others. Some secret princes restore the kingdom by fostering the good, and others are the sour fruit of uncareful wishes.
  3. Take a good look at Mourning Star's question above. Read it over and think about it. Now compare it to his comment from earlier: So, being a servant is not the same as being a slave? Is that what you're saying? As in, there is a distinction between slavery and servanthood? That's odd. Because in the question above, you tried to get me to say that the situations of Illyrio's servants are the same thing as slavery. Hmm. So Mourning Star is contradicting himself from one breath to the next. He seems rather confused. What could explain his behavior? Oh, because he knows he's wrong and he simply doesn't have the humility to admit it. So instead, he's moving between a Good vs Evil stance and a Beyond Good vs Evil stance to avoid having to confess to the obvious contradictions in what he's saying. And he's trying to get me and you and everyone else who wants to talk about the story's moral complexity to BEND THE KNEE to his brain-dead Good vs Evil mode of interpretation by demanding that I utter the words "Slavery is bad" under the threat of the accusation that I'm pro-slavery. When you do this, Mourning Star, you're being nothing less than a THUG. And Aejon the Conqueroo is your first THUG henchman. If there are any more self-righteous thugs who have a mind to step forward and place their jackboots upon my throat, please join Mourning Star and Aejon the Conqeroo in the Good vs Evil circle. I would prefer to embarrass the enemies of A Song of Ice and Fire's themes all at the same time so that I and these other folks who understand the story can talk about its deeper meanings without being accused at every turn of sympathizing with the most horrendous things human beings have ever done to each other. Yes, I'm aware that's what it seems like to you. And as I explained to you before, the only reason it seems that way to you is because you haven't swallowed the pill about what human beings are really like. The instinct for power-abuse resides at the foundation of human nature. That is not a value statement. That is not a statement about the way things ought to be. It's a statement about what IS. Power-abuse is simply the unmoving fact of the human creature. And if you can't look within yourself and find your own instinct to abuse power over other people, allow me to help you out. Every time you try to accuse me or anyone else of being pro-slavery, when you imply, suggest and outright say it, you are abusing your power to coopt other peoples' good-vs-evil psychology and turn them against somebody you disagree with. That behavior shows that you began our whole interaction with the assumption that there can be nothing to learn from people you disagree with. It is a superiority-inferiority mindset, and it's the same mindset that is so often found in the slavemasters who practiced slavery — the object of your good-vs-evil crusade. Despite your mindset being similar to the mindset of slavemasters, and despite that your behavior toward me deserves retaliation in kind, I'm not so reprehensible a person to accuse you or anyone else I disagree with of actually being pro-slavery. What an assinine thing to say, suggest and imply. Get a grip. I don't particularly have anything against Nietzsche or his book, but to be clear, I'm not referencing them when I use that term. Beyond good and evil is a useful term to set one kind of analysis apart from another kind. I know you don't, but if you continue whacking at the strawman you're building of me you're going to learn that you're wrong over and over again in ways that everybody except you will appreciate. I agree that A Song of Ice and Fire is about good and evil. All fantasy is about good and evil. Mostly what ASOIAF has to say about good and evil is that looking at the world in terms of good and evil is problematic, to say the least. Good and evil has the advantage of binding a group of people together against a common enemy, but it comes with the disadvantage of blinding people to the sympathetic viewpoint of those they've labeled evil. It's the reason Robb feels like a jerk after greeting Tyrion at Winterfell with a sword across his lap. It's the reason many of the men in the Night's Watch can't stomach making common cause with the Wildlings — a group of "evil" people the fight against which has binded the Night's Watch together for centuries. And it's the reason Dany can't reconcile her indiscriminate killings of slavemasters with her feelings of betrayal when slaves come begging her to allow them to sell themselves back into slavery. The psychology of good-and-evil is the reason that, when I challenge you to lay out a real in-story alternative place for Illyrio's servants to move to so they may escape their "slavery" (servanthood) that would be an improvement by their own defintions, you can't do it. Because the fact that Illyrio's servants wouldn't leave Illyrio's manse even if you paid them a knight's ransom to leave is one among many realities for the servants that you're blinded to for as long as you're stuck in a good vs evil crusade against Slavery The Abstraction rather than slavery the everpresent reality of power-abuse among and within human beings. I'll repeat it as many times as I need to before you get it through your head. I am not saying and have never said, suggested or implied that morality is nonexistent, that morality doesn't matter, that morality is completely relative to culture, or anything of the sort. On the contrary, your inabilty to absorb this point is among the strongest demonstrable evidence there could be that morality (meaning a good-vs-evil way of looking at the world) is among the most real things about the human condition that exists. We all have a natural tendency to slide into good-vs-evil thinking, because that mode of thinking was so important for our ancestors' survival throughout history. When I point out that power abuse among human beings is a fundamental feature of human nature, I'm describing the way reality is, not the way it ought to be. Just like when I say the sun rises in the east, I'm describing the way reality is, not the way it ought to be. The ought is a completely separate issue that cannot be fruitfully discussed until everybody in the discussion has come to grips with the fact that abuses of power including slavery do not inherently demand the existence of any extreme evil or evildoer. Slavery is in fact the given situation of our species, as is plainly seen across all of human history, everywhere in the world, for every millennium, before the western tradition arose. You need to go back and study Nietzsche again, because you didn't understand what you read. And that is not much of a criticism of you, because Nietzsche was an extremely subtle writer. He makes the same point I made above: That the will to power is the given condition of life; That the only viable paths toward structuring society in a way so that it is not fundamentally characterized by power-struggle are ones that begin with that acknowlegement. And that's why our western societies are structured the way they are, because the founders who designed them began with that acknowledgement and used it as the foundation from which to build. IE: Checks and balances: 'If people can be relied upon to abuse their power over other people, the constitution should divide power evenly across opposed branches of government so the branches will keep one anothers' power in check.' This is one of Nietzsche's commonly misrepresented "will to power" quotes. It's usually presented as though he's proposing the will to power as an ought — the right way to be. But he's proposing the opposite — the will to power is the wrong way to be. He's pointing out that when you try to reduce the human experience down to one single will (power), you simultaneously invent the justification for power abuse. Because, if life is fundamentally only about power, then you remove any reason why we all shouldn't abuse our power over one another at every opportunity. So by highlighting this, Nietzsche's injunction is: Don't Do That. Don't reduce life down to power. Moreover, Nietzsche believed that everything unconditional is pathological (sick). And reducing life down to one thing is an unconditional view of life, so it's pathological. And that's actually true no matter what you reduce it to, whether that's power, food, love or whatever. Okay, those are not themes. Those are topics. Themes say something about life. "Exploring the internal conflicts that hard choices cause people" does not say anything about life. It's just a thing that we do. "Conflicts can be internal" says something about life. So that could be a theme. It would be a much more interesting and useful theme than "Slavery is bad." The question of right vs wrong is self-evidently relative to culture. For example, in some cultures in the world it's wrong to belch after dinner, and in some cultures it's right. In some cultures it's right to tip a waitress, and in some cultures it's wrong. Gosh, you can even see this happening without needing to travel very far from home. When I cross a state line, carrying a firearm in public goes from right to wrong, and then it goes from wrong to right again on the return trip. The fact that right-and-wrong is relative to culture is so obvious to most of us that your attempts to categorically deny it expose the pathology driving your interpretation: 'I must not allow myself to appear wrong.' Without a doubt, morality's relationship to culture is a key feature of many of A Song of Ice and Fire's dilemmas. For example, there's a question about why Jorah chose to live among the Dothraki rather than any other place in the world he could have gone. By the time the reader learns about Jorah's sad and evil backstory, it's easy to see that the reason Jorah chose the Dothraki sea was because he was nihilistic and he wanted to fight and fuck his way into an early grave. What better place to do that than in a society of men who always want to fight and women who want to be spontaneously bred by the strongest men? So Jorah's intentions disgust us. Why? Millions of men and women on the Dothraki sea live this lifestyle already. So why are we more disgusted when Jorah does it than when they do it? The reason is because we know Jorah was not born and raised in this culture. He comes from Westeros where he was instilled with chivalrous values. Those involve monogamy, marriage, lifetime commitment, the protection of women, and the sanctification of female sexual selection. So we know that Jorah is deriving an evil sort of pleasure from this lifestyle that the Dothraki people are not, and that's why we're more disgusted with Jorah than with the Dothraki, who are only guilty of not being born somewhere better. Aside from your misapprehension of Nietzsche and Tywin, we're in complete agreement that right-and-wrong cannot be treated as entirely rigid or entirely relative. The middle ground is the place to be. So why is it that every time I give credence to the relativity side of the issue, you try everything in your power to shove me into an extreme version of it? The behavior gives the lie to your posturing for moral superiority, such as every time you fling words like "slavery apologist" and "nazi" at me. How interesting that when you're exposed you suddenly find a new appreciation for the middle ground between your stance and what you insist was my stance. No, my stance was the middle ground from the beginning. You were simply more interested in winning points against the strawman rather than the steel. Like I said before, you're obviously not stupid, you just lack the character development to admit when you're wrong and when your behavior is bad. But I'm going to do us both and everyone else a favor and let the rest of your numerous "Nazi"s, strawmans, and weasely maneuverings flow under the bridge. Let's get back to Ice and Fire. I can see a lot of validity in that reading, but my reading is that the implication is that this is the only choice. Or rather, choice hardly enters into the matter, if it enters at all. Ned is among the half-dozen most honorable people in the world. So the story is showing that the man who would not dishonor himself even to save the lives of his own children is a man who does not really exist. If even Ned would dishonor himself and the truth to save those he loves most, the value of honor and truth themselves are thematically challenged in the most profound way they could be challenged. It's a challenge that drives right to the heart of my point that Illyrio's servants being fat, obedient and docile in their supposed captivity is the most reliable indication of how comparatively bad their real alternatives are. The only thing we have to do to arrive at that recognition is to approach the situation with the assumption that these women are not our property. They are not pets in need of our care nor of the care of clumsy revolutionaries. These women are capable of judging what's best for themselves better than we can. And the reason they're always going to be better at making that judgement better than we can make it for them is as simple as this: They have skin in the game, and we don't.
  4. Moral exhibition is when you proudly proclaim that slavery is bad as if anybody around you thinks otherwise. You accuse me of building strawmen, yet when you do this kind of nonsense you're literally the one building a strawman and then taking whacks at it. Here's a prime example in your very next line: You lob the term "slavery apologist" at me like a child who learned a new curse word. It's as if you're hoping that if you repeat it enough times you can drag the IQ of the conversation down to your level and conceal your moral exhibitionism. To most readers, the story is clearly nurturing the slavery conversation in a space beyond good and evil. ASOIAF is a story in which the slaves themselves wait in line all day to spit in the face of their "mother" because she was more interested in winning victories over slavery as an abstraction than over slavery as a day-to-day reality for actual people. ASOIAF is a story in which tens of thousands of freed slaves die of starvation and sickness because they followed the person who freed them. I can cite examples like this for a solid hour, yet here you are like a pest doing everything in your power to drag the conversation back down to good versus evil. Your unwillingness to understand the discussion or the story at a level of complexity greater than "Slavery Bad vs Slavery Good" does not indicate that the person you're speaking to is on the Slavery Good side, it indicates that you're too entrenched in your stance (and your terrible behavior such as this) to admit when you're wrong. Seeing as you're clearly capable of reintroducing complexity to the issue of slavery when you want to, it's obvious that your behavior derives from the simple fact that you lack the character development to admit when your concept of theme is wrong and when your behavior is bad. "Slavery" is not a theme. A theme says something about the human experience. Slavery is merely a topic and a thing. A theme is something that sounds like this quote from Martin. "I think the line between good and evil runs down the middle of every human heart." Not to put the cart before the horse, but that's approximately the all-encompassing theme of ASOIAF. And what the story has to say about slavery certainly goes under that umbrella. "Slavery is bad" says something about the human experience, so it could be a theme. But as a theme it is very simple, obvious and unnecessary for a western audience that despises slavery so much that, like you, we hardly even notice when the word is being substituted for namecalling curse words. As I continue responding to your post, I'm going to highlight your repeated attempts to drag the conversation down to the Good vs Evil (anti-theme) level of analysis to give myself and anybody reading this a thorough demonstration of just how malignant your kind of behavior is, as well as how destructive it can be to fruitful ASOIAF discourse. That way, when I encounter another Mourning Star in the future I can direct him or her here so that he can see what happens to people who try to dumb down the story by accusing the people who are trying to talk about it of being pro-slavery, racist, sexist, or any other of the moral exhibitionist's favorite boogymonsters. To sweeten the deal, and as a reward for anybody following along, at the end of this post I will share the right answer and explanation to the mystery of Mirri Maz Duur's prophecy about Khal Drogo's return. "Then he will be as he was, and not before." It will be a new answer that I haven't seen before in the fandom, and I won't go into great depth about it here, but it will be correct. Namecalling counter: Two. How about we let the other readers be the judges of that. Don't undersell yourself. You were trying to explain morality to EVERYONE, because somehow you have it in your head that some of us think SLAVERY is a good idea. It's nothing short of completely deranged and detached from reality. I didn't understand what you were saying, here, until I realized that your phrase "how the blame is manifested" really means "logic and reasoning." I already noticed that your opinions about Illyrio's servants do not derive from logic and reason, but thank you for confessing it. They derive from your misguided sense that Illyrio's servants are your property who require your care and protection because they cannot decide for themselves which of their available options is best for them. But even now I give you more credit than you've earned, because in truth you haven't considered their available options at all: You haven't compared their lifestyle in Illyrio's manse to the lifestyle they're likely to have in the streets of Pentos; You haven't compared their lifestyle in Illyrio's manse to the lifestyle they're likely to have outside the walls of Pentos; You haven't considered what sort of travel they might realistically have to do, how far they might be able to get using the funds that are realistically available to them, how dangerous it is to travel, which men are going to guard them, how they're going to pay the guards, which destination is preferable to Pentos, whether they will have to learn a new language, adopt a new religion, adopt a new culture, make new friends, leave friends and family behind, how they are going to feed themselves along the way, or any of these sorts of things. Your consideration for the real world situations of Illyrio's servants extends no further than is necessary for you to exhibit your moral virtue across one simple thoughtless dimension: Slavery Bad versus Slavery Good. Now we just have to find some real people on the Slavery Good side of the argument to justify your interpretation. And if we can't find anybody like that, we'll create the illusion that they exist by accusing everybody who dares to be more thoughtful about the issue than you of "defending slavery." That'll shut everybody up by making them fearful to say what they think. Then you get to sit up on your illusory moral high horse in perpetuity. Slow. Clap. You're a bully, and not a clever one at that. Your thoughtless interpretation of slavery in ASOIAF demands the existence of people who think slavery is a good idea in order to justify itself. Likewise, Dany's good-vs-evil approach to ameliorating slavery creates her opposition, too. For example, The Sons of the Harpy are the sons of the men she crucified. Crucifixion is a form of torture, and she did it in revenge. Need I rev up A Song of Ice and Fire's theme about justice vs revenge before you can get my meaning? I'm glad you chose this passage, because the fact that you think this passage is an example of Cersei blaming children for the crimes of their parents illustrates what attitude resides at the foundation of your interpretations of the story. Let's look at more of the context. Ned is referring to the time Cersei ordered the secret killings of Robert's bastard children. Before that, Cersei's criticisms of Ned crept dangerously into the sensitive topic of Jon Snow. Cersei is telling Ned that she knows a thing or two about his most sensitive secret, and she's highlighting to Ned that he himself was willing to lie in order to protect his family. So Cersei is pointing out that her secret killings of Robert's bastards were done because she needed to protect her family, too. So when it comes to wrongdoing in order to protect family, Cersei is making a valid point that she and Ned are alike. Every living bastard of Robert's poses a future threat to Cersei and her children. And every child of Robert's bastards poses a future threat to Cersei's children. And every child of a child of Robert's bastards poses a future threat to Cersei's grandchildren, and on into eternity. So the threats that bastards pose to ruling families are very real in Westerosi society, because the society is based on blood claims to inheritance. And sure enough, the history of Westeros has no shortage of families that were ruined or deposed because somebody in the family had a bastard. To suggest that the reason Cersei killed Robert's bastards was because Cersei blamed them for Robert's infidelity is to demonstrate that you missed Cersei's point entirely. Cersei killed them because she felt she had no choice. Left alive, any one of those bastards could have gained political support and opposed her children. Lo and behold, that's exactly what we see Stannis doing with Robert's bastard Edric Storm not long after this chapter. The thing that's missing from your interpretation of this passage is the same thing that's missing from your interpretation of Illyrio's servants: Acceptance of the way the society is structured. This is not a particularly unusual or damning thing to be missing. Everybody alive and who has ever lived was less than completely happy with how their own society is structured. The problem with us not being able to accept the way the society is structured is how that unacceptance shapes our approach to improving the situations of the particular individuals who live in the society. If our prescription for the individual person is nothing short of starting a revolution, that is not a realistic solution for one person, and it is very likely to make that person's life worse than it already is. Slavery is something that happens in the story, but it is not the moral wrong that the story is highlighting. As is always the case with stories, the moral wrong the story is fundamentally highlighting is within us the readers. It's our tendency to make peoples' lives worse by trying to change the world before we adequately understand it. You've shown me that it's really easy to fight for what's good. Especially if I'm willing to disregard the lived realities of the people and societies that I claim to be helping. 'With the right ends, any means are justifiable, even if it kills tens of thousands of people, slaves, children, former slaves, masters, former masters, or more. No life can be allowed to get in the way of the crusade against That Which I Have Named Evil.' So we agree. When I point out that Illyrio's servants are choosing to remain in servitude to Illyrio because they know their realistic alternatives bring them closer to danger and death, I need not necessarily also be pro-slavery. How interesting that complexity has a way of poofing in and out of existence to suit your needs for evading your responsibility to admit when you're wrong and acting like a bully. This passage is about love vs duty. I don't know why you quoted it. Jon clearly doesn't know what is "right" in the desertion dilemma that Aemon has asked Jon to solve for Ned. I agree. What's the point of saying this? Because you have a strawman that needs building! I'm not making them, the story is making them. The issue of power and power struggle is a massive subject being explored in A Song of Ice and Fire. The subject of power struggle is in the titles of all five published books for crying out loud. Surely a fast way to discredit yourself is to plainly say the opposite of what I said. So go on and get it over with, and say for all to hear that human beings are not the type of creature that is tempted to abuse power over other human beings. No, that's how you describe my description. Will to power places power at the top of the value hierarchy. I haven't argued in favor of anything of the sort. I've argued the opposite by pointing out that your disregard for the flesh-and-blood consequences of your crusades against slavery and society is your self-serving will to power. You want to sit on the throne of virtue and you don't care who is harmed in your climb. Servant girls in Pentos, a respected tutor in Meereen, a formerly wealthy merchant from Qarth, a bricklayer and weaver and cobbler from Astapor and thousands others are among the characters in the story whose suffering must be justified for Your greater good. Certainly not theirs. And I concur that this self-centered will to power is an ethos that the Nazi Party, officially the National SOCIALIST German Workers' Party, embraced closely. No, the story is painting morality as relative to culture, because morality is relative to culture. What you're doing is trying to pretend that I'm saying morality can be completely derived from culture, but that isn't what I'm saying at all. Your tendency to push my views toward an extreme when it suits you echoes your tendency to view the world in extreme terms like Slavery Good vs Slavery Bad and Good vs Evil. Stop radicalizing other people and the world. Namecalling counter: Three. Out of all the people you could have chosen to make an example of your virtuosity, your judgement is proving as sound as it promised to be after you ignored my warning. A wild COMPLEXITY appears! COMPLEXITY uses Teleport! COMPLEXITY got away! You'll have to forgive me for skipping so far ahead, but to be honest, your post is long and repetitive and I am bored of responding to it. As promised, let's visit Mirri Maz Duur's prophecy for perhaps the final time. Since Drogo died, it's hard to imagine how he will ever "return" or "be as he was." Some speculate he will be reborn as a wight. Some say a fire wight. Some say he never really died, or he was reborn as Drogon when he was cremated. There are as many ideas as there are conceivable interpretations of the words "return" and "be as he was." Well, as in a pattern you may notice in your adventures through Ice and Fire's mysteries, the solution to this prophecy is more grounded than it seemed like it needed to be. Let's add the two paragraphs before this passage to see what more is going on. This is a classic case of... When you barrage a person with many questions, comments and criticisms, you give her the freedom to answer any one of them she wants, leaving you in the dark about which one she really answered. There are two subjects in Dany's first paragraph: "Drogo" and "the son". Mirri was responding to "the son" part rather than the Drogo part. So the prophecy is about Rhaego, not Drogo. Rhaego was stolen by the Dothraki at birth while they kept Dany drugged and unconscious. He's still alive and they still have him. But probably not for much longer because Dany is on her way. And there is another interpretation of the word "bear" that does not mean childbirth. It means "hold."
  5. As you double down on your moral exhibition, you follow in the footsteps of the character that seems to be the object of some of the audience's oversensitivity. If we as an audience had been less self-righteous about our disagreements with other readers at a sooner date, we could have spared ourselves some of the sting of learning that the people we demonized as "slavery apologists" and other devils were closer to the truth than we were. Being wrong never feels good, but it isn't supposed to. And there are two things we can do when we learn we're wrong: learn from it or run from it. The sting that caused me to take my study of this story private so that I might learn the hardest lessons it has to teach me is the same sting that compels you now to misrepresent and demonize me in the hopes of rallying support from other readers that might result in voting me down, shouting me down, chasing me away, or compelling the powers that be to remove me so that your interpretations may continue unchallenged. I've watched this pattern repeat itself for years and across every ASOIAF community on the internet. By July of the year 2022, it seems to me that readers are tired of watching the moral complexity that they love about A Song of Ice and Fire be snuffed out by the internet's tendency to allow conversations to be dictated by the most outraged and least knowledgeable person in the room. I may be wrong, but I don't expect that this rapidfire series of misrepresentations of my explanation of the story's themes about slavery is going to fool many people. I haven't said or suggested that everything is morally relative or cultural. In many ways I said the opposites of those things. I haven't blamed any characters for the actions of other characters. These misinterpretations or misrepresentations reflect your own inability or refusal to accept reality as it is rather than as we would like it to be. How wonderful it would be if a human being was not the sort of creature that is tempted to abuse its power over other human beings. Unfortunately, that is not what human beings are like at the bottom of things. Only a thoroughly acculturated person who is surrounded by millions of other thoroughly and similarly acculturated people could believe otherwise. And that's who we are, so that's why we tend to believe otherwise. But in other places in the world, as in places in Planetos outside of Westeros, it is power-struggle rather than faith-in-fellow-man that fundamentally characterizes the social fabric of their culture. There are so many scenes in the story that deal with the uncomfortable truth's I'm describing here that there can be no question about the author's intentions in prying them open for discussion. Xaro spends page after page debating with Daenerys about these same issues, with the conclusion left dangling in the thematic winds to be measured and deliberated by us. Tyrion spends entire chapters adjusting to and internally commentating on the same uncomfortable truths I described, a most prominent passage of which you quoted yourself. "There has never been a slave who did not choose to be a slave, the dwarf reflected. Their choice may be between bondage and death, but the choice is always there." Dany's solution to slavery is to kill the evil people. You suggested your agreement with Dany's approach when you incited Dany's golden collar. When you refer to Dany's golden collar to posit this concept of theme, you're lumping all the slaves and servants and heaven knows who else into the same category of "slave" with Daenerys. The only unifying characteristic between a slave like Grey Worm and a servant like the blue eyed chattering sixteen-year-old girl in Illyrio's manse is that Somebody Is The Boss Of Them. But their circumstances are as different as heaven and hell. This exhibits the disregard for individuation that I was highlighting. And it's this very disregard that is felt most severely by the vulnerable people in the story when powerful characters like Daenerys are guilty of it too. Gosh, even Dany expresses doubts all throughout the story about whether it was wrong to harm so many innocent and less-guilty people in the collateral of harming the more-guilty people. I couldn't agree more with everything you said here, except that your notion that I've wandered off the deep end shows me that you haven't internalized my point that slavery comes from the innate nature within each and every human being rather than just certain human beings. As Tyrion points out, if you think you're the one in ten thousand people who would elect to starve to death before offering yourself into bondage to somebody who can keep you fed, you're almost certainly wrong. And if you think you're the one in ten million people who would allow his child to starve to death before offering him and yourself into bondage to somebody who can keep you fed, you're definitely wrong. Tyrion's commentary highlights that very few people dare to brave these dilemmas even in their own thoughts, because they're unpleasant to think about, and the honest answers to them are not ones we like to acknowledge about ourselves. But placing ourselves in the shoes of the characters is the story's fundamental challenge to us, and the story shows no reason why we're exempt from doing the same for the people across Essos. More than that, I have studied this story long enough that I can assure you that the story and author are winding up thematic haymaker critiques of its readers (and its genre) for neglecting to rise to this challenge regarding the slaves and slave masters in slaving societies. Your notion that morality "from hundreds of years ago" has no bearing on the present day echoes the self-flattering arrogance to which every great philosopher and historian past and present has credited the decline of their own civilizations as well as those that fell before them. Imagine the arrogance required to unironically believe that your generation are the first people in the world and in history to think that slavery is bad. It might be pertinent to approach the issue with the assumption that you're thousands of years late to the idea that slavery is bad, that countless of the brightest minds who ever lived have struggled tirelessly to make the world a better place in that regard, and that the world you're living in now is that better place. This belongs in the bad-faith argumentation category of Accuse The Other Person Of Doing Exactly What You're Doing. When I delineate an intricacy of a character's or the story's behavior, you deduce my motives from it. And worse, you're wrong every time you do it. The purpose of it is obviously to misrepresent me, which is why you're happy to respond to the answers you made up for me before I've answered them. As you continue to demonstrate your bad faith like this, you aren't going to like it as I continue to expose it while simultaneously wrapping up your anti-theme attitudes in A Song of Ice and Fire's themes and serving them back to you. Using the audience's usual meaning of the word slave, everyone who ever had to answer to anyone about anything can fairly be added to the category of slave. Smallfolk, knights, princes, princesses, queens, Illyrio's servants, unsullied, the Dothraki slaves and generals alike all fit into this category together. It's absurd. Furthermore, with this approach there is apparently no need to differentiate between the conditions of these people when doling out our criticisms of slavery, characters or even other readers. Why? Because the purpose of the ciriticisms is no greater than to broadcast to our peers that we're morally superior to other people, even if those other people don't really exist and we have to constantly perpetuate the illusion that they do exist by accusing everybody who dares to share a thought more complex than Slavery Is Bad of being pro-slavery. The whole thing is dumb, and fewer and fewer people are satisfied with it anymore. Okay, we get it, you're not a slaveowner. But neither is anybody else on the continent, so calm down. Because this story is way deeper than you're giving it credit and the rest of us are trying to talk about it. I don't suppose you are representative of the forum or site at large, but when you make a comment like this I think I can safely say that you embarrass a lot of people. If these thinly veiled ad hominem attacks are genuinely all you have to offer and you can't draw from the story to attack the ideas rather than the person, then I worry that I have wasted half a decade of my spare time puzzling out how this story ends only to cast pearls before swine. In that case, I have honest questions for you that I genuinely want the answers to. If the story's message about slavery is ultimately Slavery Is Bad, then what is your explanation for Illyrio's cooks being fat? The author could have easily written this part of the story so that the cooks are skinny and starving. Wouldn't that be a better way to portray the evil of their enslavement? Being near as fat as Illyrio, there's no plausible way that the truth of the situation is that the cooks are stealing food and Illyrio doesn't know about it. So Illyrio knows that they're eating a lot, and yet he never puts a stop to it before they're near as fat as he is. Why do you suppose that is? The author could have written it so that the cooks are only a little overweight. Surely writing it that way would have lended enough plausibility to the stealing-food-in-secret interpretation, thereby preserving the plausibility of Illyrio being cruel to them regarding food and the plausibility of the slavery theme being Slavery Is Bad. The author could have written it so that the cooks appeared in Dany's first chapter. Why did the author wait to introduce them five books later? Do you think Martin simply felt the need to add more characters to a story that already has thousands of characters? Is the addition of the cooks and all the bits of information about them nothing more than idle world building for the sake of world building? I have a lot more questions like these, but those are good enough for now. My purpose in asking them is to get you to bring your concept of metatext to the foreground and turn it into text so that we can read it as plainly as I've presented my concept of the metatext. Here are my answers: The author made the cooks near as fat as Illyrio because their weight stands in criticism of both Dany's and the reader's notion that Illyrio's servants are slaves in truth rather than servants. The author didn't make the cooks slightly overweight because that could plausibly be interpreted as though the cooks are stealing food behind Illyrio's back. The author wanted to obliterate that interpretation so that there can be no question that Illyrio's supposedly cruel treatment of his servants is glaringly absent. The author waited to introduce the cooks until five books later because he wanted the readers to carry Dany's interpretation of the servants/slaves for a long time without challenging it and placing the obese cooks in the story in Dany's first chapter would have given away the trick too early.
  6. On the topic of extremely distasteful rhetoric, let's talk about your horrendous attitude that me or anyone else around here might be pro-slavery. In all my years in the fandom I've never once come across somebody who thinks slavery is a good idea. The notion that pro-slavery people actually exist in any amount greater than an infinitesimally small decimal is so absurd as to highlight the ignorance driving your concept of theme. You seem to think slavery is an evil that wouldn't exist if there weren't any evil people around to perpetrate it, and that's why you agree with characters who think the remedy for slavery is to kill the evil people. But it's a remedy that sticks out like a sore thumb in a story so heavily critical of black vs white depictions of good and evil. Because when you or a character sets out to 'kill the evil people' you're revealing that you've painted those people a moral shade of "grey" that uses all black paint and no white. More importantly, it's opposite to the real history of slavery. In reality, slavery was present everywhere in the world for all of human history before the western ethos of individual sovereignty became globally dominant. The ugly truth is that in the same way the ethos of kill-or-be-killed characterizes the default relationship between animals in nature, enslave-or-be-enslaved characterizes the default relationship between human beings. So any attempt to transcend a society above slavery needs to be grounded in the recognition that slavery is the normative and given condition of mankind's nature before one can hope to actually improve the situation. It is freedom, not slavery, which requires an extreme explanation, because our situation in the modern world is so unusual and miraculous in the context of human history. That suggests that freedom is fragile and fleeting. So that's why western storytellers like Martin go to so much effort to write stories like this one from which we might learn by honing our moral dilemma solving abilities while the lives that hang in the balance are made of ink and paper rather than flesh and blood. Yes and no. It's an idea that can be and was used to defend the practice of slavery, but it also contains some important truths about human beings that are uncomfortable to look at and inconvenient for your Slavery-Is-Bad concept of theme. Slavery is obviously bad, and that's certainly depicted in the story, but it is absolutely not a theme. It's far too obvious to be a theme. And the implicit notion that the audience doesn't already know that slavery is bad zooms past silliness and toward insulting. There are literal pages and chapters of text in ASOIAF exploring the uncomfortable truths that you're ignoring. For instance, Tyrion's time as a slave of Yezzan is, among other things, meant to show us to the psychology of people who have no concept of the ethos of freedom that we have in the modern western world. Slaves who belong to rich and powerful masters are proud of their slavery. They flaunt their ownership and brag about it to other slaves. The reason is because in a slave society there is no upward social mobility for the common class. But social advancements still happen to them on rare occassions. If you're a slave in a slave society, social advancements happen to you when people around you fail. If your job is more difficult than another slave's job, you may "advance" to his job when he gets sold, injured or killed. This is extremely opposite to the way we tend to look at each other in the western world. Our societies are structured the way they are to incentivize us to raise each other up rather than put each other down. So that's why it's extra challenging for us to put ourselves in the shoes of eastern characters and find the sympathetic angle for them, because their way of looking at the world is inverse to ours. This is a good example of the ways the most vulnerable people in the world are harmed by observers who are more interested in exhibiting their moral virtues than in producing actual improvements to the lives of real people. Or, in this case, to the lives of fictional people who we're supposed to treat as though they're real for the purposes of the dilemmas. Illyrio's servants do not know that they're characters in a story. They know that they live in Pentos. They know that when they step outside of the walls of Illyrio's mance, they're exposed to the dangers of the city. And they know that when they step outside the walls of Pentos, they're exposed to the dangers of the Dothraki sea. So my comparison of Illyrio's mance to the Dothraki sea makes more sense than anything else you could suggest, which is of course why you neglected to suggest anything else. Illyrio's servants might be able to find safe passage to a different city, find service to another billionaire political leader in it, or find safe passage to another continent, but they know that their position in Illyrio's manse is so incredibly safe, comfortable and unlikely compared to every alternative imaginable that the self-evident truth of the situation is that the reason Illyrio's servants show no sign of wanting to leave is not because they're forced to stay, but because they very much do not want to leave. Their willingness to have sex with the likes of Illyrio or his unpleasant guests like Tyrion despite his cruelty proves just how much these women prefer serving in Illyrio's manse to their realistic alternatives. But of course, it only proves that to those of us who treat the slaves, servants, smallfolk and underprivileged characters in the story less like property in our care and more like people who are capable of thinking for themselves, making their own decisions and making them well.
  7. Dany is my most researched character in the series, and one of my two favorite characters, so I often draw from her story. But I won't have any difficulty evidencing the same theme in other characters, on other continents and in other time periods. Criticisms of the readers are implicit in the story's themes, so they don't require us to criticize each other at all. When I say the story is criticizing the readers who think this or that, I'm proposing a concept of theme rather than trying to criticize any particular reader or character. Some of the themes I propose stand in criticism of attitudes, beliefs and theories that I subscribed to myself for a long time. You'll see me acknowledge that sometimes when I include myself with the readership using words like "our filppant abuses of the word slavery." I'm sure you and Mourning Star are interesting enough people, but my main interest is in the story, and I tend to assume other people are more interested in the story than in me, too. As an example, if you take Mourning Star's implication that I'm pro-slavery as long as the slave is well fed, and you suppose that a thematic message of the story is that slavery is bad, then that interpretation stands in criticism of people who are pro-slavery all by itself without Mourning Star needing to point a finger at me specifically. If A Song of Ice and Fire did happen to contain a theme that stands in criticism of Daenerys, then your tendency to slide into conspiratorial accusations of people who simply want to dig into the story's themes portrays an oversensitivity to criticisms of Daenerys for which A Song of Ice and Fire must be a good prescription. The takeaway is that because of the very nature of stories and themes, it won't be possible to suss them out of a sufficiently apropos story as long as themes-that-stand-in-criticism-of-us are barred from discussion. If your attitude is reflective of the book audience as a whole, then it's no mystery why despite having a decade to pore over five books most of their big mysteries remain intact. But even that appears as much a testament to the author's insight as to the shortcomings in us. Our opinions and attitudes about the story, the characters and events within it are largely engineered by the author, who wrote every part of the story the way he did with consideration to the prevailing attitudes of our era. So, we should try not to take one anothers' interpretations too personally, and to try to remember to always give the author half of the credit for what we think about his great story.
  8. Illyrio's cooks, servants and whores would have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the gate if you made them leave. I don't suppose you really think the old woman in Dany's first chapter in AGOT would rather be on the Dothraki sea than serving at Illyrio's mance. Have you see how Illyrio and the people who serve him live? They sleep on featherbeds and never miss a meal. Have you seen how the Dothraki live? Most of them spend their entire lives outdoors, poorly clothed, living short lifespans and uncertain about where their next meal is going to come from. From a young age girls follow behind the khalasar and rip bloody arrows out of dead bodies so that the men can reuse them, because if they don't the men in their khalasar might lose the next battle and then the small semblance of stability these children have will fracture with the khalasar. What's being premiered in A Song of Ice and Fire is the severe disconnect between the audience's sensibility and the poor's reality, and the many ways in which the most vulnerable groups of people in the world are harmed when their stability is destroyed to appease the feelings of observers who have so much stability that they do not even care to differentiate between the conditions of the Unsullied and the conditions of the servants in Illyrio's mance. For the characters who face these realities, the differences are heaven and hell. But for the readers who mostly want the next story beat of their favorite princes and princesses, the differences can be reduced to anti- or pro- slavery. For an author who wants to hide the answers to his story's secrets, what better way could you imagine to do it than to co-opt the audience's moral exhibitionism and let them do the work for you by tacitly accusing people who dare bring nuance to public consciousness of being pro-slavery.
  9. Dany doesn't trust Illyrio. She's skeptical of his intentions and motivations. Tyrion doesn't trust Illyrio. Tywin has contempt for Illyrio. Illyrio is portrayed as a fat greedy slavedriving cheesmonger with greasy hands who was tempted to have sex with a thirteen year old Daenerys. Then in ADWD we learn about his backstory as a fighting slave, hear about his wife and see his affection for her memory, see his fatherly affection for Young Griff, and he strongly suggests that his motivations are ultimately deeply personal and more important to him than money. Illyrio is no saint, but the only way this arc makes sense is if it's moving toward the revelation that Illyrio is, in some way or another, the genuine artifact. Whatever the deepest desire of his heart turns out to really be, narratively it has to be aimed at the good. I suspect he's working against slavery. For example, there's a noteworthy contrast between Dany's thoughts in AGOT about Illyrio's servants being slaves in truth, versus Illyrio's servant cooks stepping onto the stage in ADWD hundreds of pounds overweight. The commentary is on Dany's and our filppant abuses of the word slave.
  10. There's more than one way to subvert male heroism. Wherever a man's heroism can't be stolen by substituting him with a woman, the audience settles for criticizing the hero, which is best accomplished by reframing his most heroic traits and deeds as villainy. Patriarchy is a word that goes a long way to that end, because it has been repeated long enough in accompaniment with the implication of corruption that the corrupt part is implied without being said. Unsaid, the conclusion of every discussion about patriarchal society was nested in the premises before the discussion occurred. I haven't given Maggy much attention yet, but undoubtedly her backstory is in relationship with her prophecy in the perspective-is-everything way that it always is in this story. Looking at her wiki now, the most significant piece of missing information about her seems to me to be the precise place in Essos where she's from. The most significant piece of given information about her seems to me to be that she's the grandmother of House Spicer. The most underestimated piece of information about her seems to me to likely be her title the Frog.
  11. They're detectable in the audience. The audience has a popular gender subversion theory for every major male hero mystery: The Prince That Was Promised must be Daenerys; The Knight of the Laughing Tree must be Lyanna; The Valonqar must be a woman; The Stallion Who Mounts The World must be Daenerys's dragon and/or Daenerys. The Blacks must be the good guys and the Greens must be the bad guys in the Dance of the Dragons. Watch me rack up a bunch of internet points by writing up a theory about why The Last Hero is a woman. It's noteworthy that there are not any popular gender subversion theories happening in the opposite direction. The readers are not insisting that Nissa Nissa was a man. Nobody says the younger more beautiful queen will be a man. You might say a queen is a woman, but if the prince that was promised must be a woman then the hypocrisy is revealed, and the motivation behind the whole collection of theories comes to the foreground. And so does the author's purpose for choosing the word valonqar. Maggy's purpose is still a mystery to me though.
  12. Maester Aemon has an epiphany about The Prince That Was Promised prophecy. He thinks that the gender neutrality of Valyrian language can accommodate an interpretation of the prophecy in which TPTWP is a woman, and therefore Daenerys. If this interpretation of the prophecy is entirely correct, then George RR Martin has completely robbed his readers of the fun of figuring out the prophecy. And since Martin is a better writer than that, the one thing I can be absolutely positive about is that Maester Aemon's interpretation is not entirely correct. That isn't to say that his epiphany is worthless to us. On the contrary, it may be a critical component in our exploration of the story's mysteries, whether for TPTWP or any other mystery. But it is to say that one of two things must be true. (1) Daenerys is not TPTWP (2) If Daenerys is TPTWP, this reasoning is not the way it will manifest in the story. Through the lens of that metatext, in which the author would obviously never tell us the answer to a big mystery (and less-so in this straightforward way) the situation as a whole places gender subversion center stage, sharing its spotlight with That Which Is Obviously Wrong. So, whatever the resolution to TPTWP prophecy turns out to be, this passage of Maester Aemon is a whispered threat to the audience that our insistence that TPTWP is Daenerys, or any woman, will result, in one way or another, in making us feel foolish indeed. Because of that, I can safely exclude all women from my search for The Prince That Was Promised. With Maester Aemon's passage exposing to me a thematic criticism of gender subversion, the implications for the Valonqar prophecy come to the foreground. Valonqar will be a male, too. Coming at Valonqar from another angle, I can see that, while the word valonqar may or may not be gender neutral, the Valyrian language as a whole cannot possibly lack for gender-specific words that mean brother and sister. The gender distinction is too important in practical everyday life to have never born out in language. So even if valonqar translates to little sibling rather than little brother, there must also be a Valyrian word that means little brother. And since Maggy didn't use it, and since Cersei's research revealed valonqar to mean little brother, the story so far has give me every reason to think valonqar means little brother and no reason to think it means little sibling. As if to echo Illyrio's criticisms of Westerosi people, Aemon's reasoning matches the tendency of Westerosi people to take their animal heraldry too seriously. Aemon is supposing that the existence of gender neutrality in the words that Valyrians use to refer to dragons means that there must also be gender neutrality in the words that Valyrians use to refer to human beings. But that need not necessarily be the case. In consideration of the practical everyday need to distinguish between male and female people, whether in the family, at work or anywhere, the silliness of Aemon's assumption comes to the foreground. In consideration of the human tendency to neglect to distinguish between the genders of animals when referring to cow (heffer or bull) deer (doe or stag) and more, the reasons why the Valyrians might not have distinguished between male and female dragons were likely the same reasons as our own: Most of us are not animal breeders or hunters. This concept of theme allows me to make some predictions about the audience's response to it. One is that some of the audience will criticize that the Valyrian language need not distinguish between genders because the imagination of the author need not be as constrained as my own. I expect also that they'll point to the genre of the story being fantasy to suggest that realism can be thrown out. These responses themselves will exemplify the reason for the existence of the story's thematic criticism of gender subversion. Gender expression and art quality are two casualties of the crusade against gender uniformity.
  13. I've only heard unsullied used to mean unspoiled in regards to spoilers.
  14. The Others are hate-filled monsters who genuinely want to destroy existence itself. I think that's going to be Martin's surprise twist with the Others, so to speak. People are expecting him to pull some kind of miraculous humanization of the Others at the end of the story. So the way he surprises an audience that's expecting that is to not do that. The interesting parts are in the how, why and the thematic meaning of such an ending. What I gather so far is that the Others are basically what emerges when a civilization betrays its traditions. In Westeros, the tradition was Old Gods. That tradition was betrayed when the First Men betrayed the pact, and when the Andals burned the weirwoods and instituted the Faith of the Seven along with chivalry and knighthood. So mankind lost its access to the magic that derived from the Old Gods tradition, which was mostly that the children of the forest used their magic to build giant castles and protect them with spells. So the "Game of Thrones" can fairly be interpreted as mankind losing its access to the power to build magic castles, which derives from their traditions, and then as a consequence being doomed to fight over the castles that remain. Because they can't make new ones. So when the Andals and Faith took over the continent, the story is showing that the magic of the Old Gods doesn't simply go away when that happens. It gets redirected into something evil. Why? Because the Old God values align with the reality of their world better than the Faith values do. So one lesson is that that's what happens when you go against reality itself. And that's what you're doing when you go against your oldest traditions. They're old for a reason, because they go deep to the roots of reality. Your tradition had a close relationship with reality, and that closeness remains even while you're betraying it and going against it. And the magic that made your civilization strong and functional then gets directed into something that hates you, hates your civilization, hates everything that you consider good including trees, babies, summer and even the frickin' sun. They want eternal night, darkness, cold and fear, all of which spell maximum suffering for normal healthy human beings. Because of the obviousness of what the Other want being so anti-human, the commentary about good and evil in a story where everybody is shown to be part good and part evil is, surprisingly, that there does in fact come a point when what a person wants is so completely anti-human that the battle against them is synonymous with a battle of good against evil. Maybe when people are taking human baby sacrificies, working toward eternal night and cold nad darkness, it's finally okay to say enough is enough, these people are evil and we need to band together and fucking kill them, because if we don't they're going to kill us and our children for every generation into eternity if nobody stops them.
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